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An Exploration of Cultural Identity in the Namesake

Author LiuJuan
Tutor YanGang
School Sichuan International Studies University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords The Namesake Jhumpa Lahiri name cultural identity
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
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The Namesake is the first novel written by Jhumpa Lahiri whose collection of short stories, The Interpreter of Maladies, won her almost all the prizes including the Pulitzer Prize in 2000. In the modern migrating world, with a growing interest on diasporas and immigration, identity crisis exists widely; and this is the major theme in Lahiri’s writings. In The Namesake, Lahiri portrays some characters who exile between America and India living common lives with their questions of identity and belonging.In this novel, the two generations of residents are confronted with totally different issues. One generation is composed of migrants, and the other composed of non-migrants. The former was born in homeland and migrated to another country. They experience great changes accompanied with estrangement, solitude and regret. The latter was born and grew up in the new country. They are unaware of the depression and renovation of life. Only from their background, some smell of exotic culture can be vaguely sensed. The senses of belonging for the two generations are different.The thesis will analyze The Namesake from the perspective of cultural identity. The thesis is composed of the introduction, main body and conclusion. The first part contains thesis statement, a brief introduction to the author and her writing, literature review about the novel and methodology. The main body is divided into three chapters. Chapter One concerns on the characters’identity predicaments in the novel. Chapter Two probes on“name”, a symbol for independent identity. Chapter Three analyzes the characters’different attitudes and solutions to their identity predicament and points out that their quest for cultural self is endless and hopeless. The three chapters parallel to one another. On the basis of the preceding analysis, the last part, conclusion, summarizes the whole text in retrospection.

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